Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Robert Goulet is Dead

Spring Valley, New York. Early 1970’s. The Barretts lived next door. Mrs. Barrett was an alcoholic and spent much time building a rock garden in her back yard. It was not difficult to find the necessary rocks since we were in Rockland County. She was a tall, ivory girl woman who looked like she would fit perfectly on a horse. I had a boy crush on her.

Her husband was a manager of a country club. He was not a loyal husband which I am sure must have added to Mrs. Baretts’ alcohol intake. Mr. Barrett was also very good friends with Robert Goulet. True. I had no idea who Robert Goulet was. Camelot was long over and as a child, whenever his name was mentioned, I could only think of goulash.

Those years in Spring Valley were lived in a high ranch. These are pretty hideous houses. You enter at a level of the house that was called “The Landing”—and you had to go either up or down from there to the upstairs of the High Ranch, where most of the main rooms and bedrooms were, or downstairs to the finished lower floor. Through the sliding doors of the dining room of the main, top floor was a deck. The deck was quite high and at the same level of the other high decks across the backyards of the other houses.

One day, Ruth Barrett told us that her father was bringing home Robert Goulet for dinner. And he did come. I still had no idea who this goulash was but I felt like I had to care because he was famous. From the Baretts’ high deck in the yard, there he stood and I ran into the backyard to see him with my brother and sister and he waved at us from up high. My mother came out, too. We all stood there looking at Robert Goulet.

Mr. and Mrs. Barrett eventually divorced. Mrs. Barrett went to AA and got sober. I have no idea what happened to Mr. Barrett, though I never really liked him. He was macho and I was sort of in love with his wife.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carbon Fund

It makes me sick to know that every flight I take makes the world a hotter place.

Today, while reading my Frommer’s for a future trip to the Yucatan, I read about

How it works is, whenever you fly you pay for your carbon. Somewhere else, that carbon is offset by investments into renewables, energy efficiency and forestation.

It’s not exactly Cap and Trade. But at least it’s a move in the right direction and gets people to realize that one must pay money to take care of the planet. Eventually, we can get to a full system of Cap and Trade, which will stabilize things. Once stabilized, we can Cap, Trade and Reduce. Eventually, it can all be done electronically through taxation.

For my flying concerns, one round trip flight of 6,000 miles only costs $6.25 in offset costs.

At the end of the year, I can add up all my flights and send a donation to the carbon fund. No, it won’t change the world and hardly anyone will do it. But it’s the message and the small actions. Action brings more action.

Offset today:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cherubs from Utah, The Tranny Turnpike

Our very good friends are opening a café on Santa Monica Boulevard right across the street from a Honda dealership.

While waiting for their final board of health approval so they can open, they began a weekly Saturday night with friends, kind of hangout-hootenanny with wine. This weekend was the first one.

By chance, the son of a famous Mormon singer who lives in Utah (think Paper Roses and Porcelain dolls) and the nephew of the guy with the purple socks, is understudying for a play next door. He has befriended the ladies who run the café. With his guitar. His twenty-four year old guileless goodness. With his chestnut brown hair. And most importantly, with his singing voice. He can hit a high C#, full. His intonation is perfect. He has the genes. One could even say they’re a little bit country, a little bit Rock n’ Roll.

But truly, his voice is outstanding and he gave us a mini-concert in the cafe. Big event as it turns out. The four women went haywire. They fell in love. They wanted to take him home and make sure that he would always be fed. Among other things. The three men were in awe.

Talk naturally led to when he was going to do a show in the café, that we would all help produce it, make sure the place was packed. Even though he is the child of fortune, he does appear to need a little boost. Often, famous kids eschew help and connections from their well established parents because they want to be able to do it on their own. And here we were a bunch of boozed up middle-age theatre types at the ready to produce a showcase for him.

After he left, there was much discussion about how to handle and help this kid, who, upon consideration, probably doesn’t need any help at all and was just humoring us. Everyone had flurries of ideas, while snarfing down grilled cheese sandwiches and goblets of wine. One of the women got very upset because she felt her territory was being invaded and that people weren’t listening to her. She just “Didn’t want him to be overproduced!” She collected dishes and started washing and banging them around in a frenzy of petulance and hurt. Hilarious.

It all died down by three in the morning, standing on Santa Monica Boulevard. A transsexual prostitute ran into us, which is nothing unusual for that stretch of road. (S)he was on X, with her beard stubble, her bleached out long hair and her whore outfit. (S)he was messy and inarticulate, giving us half phrases about how abusive and wigged out others can be toward her(im) and how (s)he doesn’t really know exactly what (s)he is, still trying to figure it out. We were imploring her, “Just love yourself, man. Be yourself. It’s cool. Be it all. That’s fine. What else do you want to do with your life?”

When asked, (s)he said she was from SLC. Salt Lake City. We tried to help.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ann Coulter is a Horse Faced Nightmare

ADL Condemns Ann Coulter's Comment That Jews Need 'To Be Perfected'

New York, NY, October 12, 2007 ... The Anti-Defamation League strongly condemns Ann Coulter for her anti-Semitic comment that Christians "want Jews to be perfected" in an interview with Donny Deutsch on CNBC's "The Big Idea." During her October 8 appearance, Coulter suggested that Jews should convert, adding that, "we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. … That's what Christianity is."
Ann Coulter may be a political pundit but she clearly knows very little about religious theology and interfaith issues. Coulter's remarks are outrageous, offensive and a throwback to the centuries-old teaching of contempt for Jews and Judaism. The notion that Jews are religiously inferior or imperfect because they do not accept Christian beliefs was the basis for 2,000 years of church-based anti-Semitism. While she is entitled to her beliefs, using mainstream media to espouse the idea that Judaism needs to be replaced with Christianity and that each individual Jew is somehow deficient and needs to be "perfected," is rank Christian supersessionism and has been rejected by the Catholic Church and the vast majority of mainstream Christian denominations.
Clearly, Ann Coulter needs a wake-up call about the power of words to injure others and fuel hatred. She needs an education, too, about the roots of anti-Semitism and the shared values of Judaism and Christianity. Christians and Jews have worked tirelessly for more than 40 years to overcome the past and to promote a more tolerant and pluralistic vision for the future and especially for America.
Donny Deutsch is to be commended for his immediate and forceful denunciation of Coulter's statements, for calling her remarks personally offensive, and for rightly characterizing her suggestion that Jews are inferior to Christians as anti-Semitism.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 25, 1979

Today was good. I went to school late with Sally’s car, I picked up my paycheck, first. After school I wisked down to the bank, cashed my check, went back to school for show choir, went to the hospital to visit Dad, He’s bad, I feel awful. I came home did homework, went back to the hospital, then I went to this guy Freddie’s House, Mrs. Wermuses’ cousin. We’re starting a band. Afterwards I went to Donna’s across the street, and talked to her, smoked a Doobie, It was a good night.

The paycheck was from Reinauer’s truckstop. Of course I was in show choir. My father had a bad neck thing and he was laid out in a terrible traction apparatus. (Years later, he had to get a neck fusion operation. Poor guy. But he’s fine. Plays lots of golf.) Mrs. Wermus was my guitar teacher for about eight years. She was a total Joan Baez type, smoking Moore cigarettes—during lessons—and had complete faith in my music ability. She was always trying to get me to go into to Manhattan to play at The Bitter End. All I could think was, “What am I going to play? The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down?” Freddie was tall and hairy, a total musician. Mrs. Wermus, aw hell, her name was Muriel, Muriel tried to get Freddie and I to play together. We were not a good match. I was never meant to be in a band and I never was. Donna was my girlfriend’s sister who lived in a rental apartment across the street that her grandmother owned. It was a hideous fourplex, blue-ish-gray, from the early twentieth century, shaped like the Hotel from Monopoly. Donna had two kids and a law student husband who was going to Fordham. Donna was beautiful and sarcastic with a serious rack of lamb. She was a major pothead. You could go over there at anytime and get high. And we did.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sometimes, You Just Can't Breathe--And That's All Right

I’m oddly non-alarmist. In fact, as the Sociopath book I’m reading tells me, I might be one of the 4% of society who depends on extra thrills.

So when there are hurricanes, wildfires, tsunamis, I actually grow joyful and calm. Yeah, I guess I’m heartless.

At a distance, however, I realize my happiness is justified because it means the earth is doing what it does with no regard for the hubris of humanity. In essence, nature is supreme and that raises my dopamine. Maybe I’m not a sociopath, then, but just a guy who likes my mother earth in full force.

I will say this, though, I cannot breathe well. My chest is tight. I’m a bit light headed. The air is awful. Sometimes it smells like a campfire. Sometimes it smells like eucalyptus. A few minutes ago, all I could smell were Cuban cigars. I don’t know why.

This yellow spume that we are living in is not enjoyable. People have survived much worse. The weather is supposed to change by Thursday. We all look forward to it.

Most of the footage you see of people in Malibu is pretty cool. They’re not a people in denial. They know this happens and they are prepared. They take off with their kids and dogs and photo albums and laptops and wait it out. But when you see a guy on TV, like I did today, self-righteously moaning, “Where are the firemen? Where are they? I haven’t seen one all day,” you just have to think, “Dude, you knew the risk when you moved here. Buy in town if you want a less perilous existence.”

If it all burns, it all burns.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Allergic Gay Men are Green

Let’s face it. Who’s greener than a gay man with allergies?

Our carbon footprint, over time, is almost indiscernible, since we do not breed.

We are also the sensors for air quality, sneezing and curling into exhaustion, like pill bugs, as soon as the dry pollution whittles away at our nasal passages.

Worship us for keeping down the population.
Use us as weather stations.
We are gay. We are green.
We support the cause.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Malibu Fire

It is highly usual for the marine layer to hover over Hollywood at night. A normal occurrence, the ocean about twelve miles away, its moisture rolls in and gives the night a fresh blanket of coolness.

Tonight, that light fog is filled with smoke. It’s cold and damp as usual, but loaded with particulate matter. It’s oddly freakish, an end of the world feeling.

The moon is in a haze of blue. The world smells like a campfire.

Friday, October 19, 2007




Reading From his Memoir, OPEN TRENCH--the inspiration for the Blog--one night only! Selections include “Whatever Happened to Cousin Mickey?” and “Mexicrap
Wednesday, NOVEMBER 7 @ 7:30 @ A Different Light Bookstore
8853 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA

A Different Light Bookstore

Event Location

* See below for more information



--A Short play (along with three even shorter plays)

The Arts Council must pick one lucky recipient to win the big funding prize!
Who will it be? This farce of urinary proportions sends up the ridiculous nature of arts funding and who actually gets the cash. Run by two self-involved nuts that put three applicants through the paces for the booty, only one hopeful has the courage to steel his nerve and drop trou and give what is greatly desired: A tasty stream of volatile, minority piss. This nasty farce, with its heart in its kidneys, is sure to tickle even the most politically correct.

November 1- November 18
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays @ 8, Sundays @ 3 @ West Coast Ensemble
2106 Hyperion Avenue, Silverlake, CA

West Coast Ensemble

Location of Event

*The Third Promising Reading Will Take Place
at A Different Light Bookstore

The Promising Series is the only reading series in Los Angeles that exclusively features Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender writers. A goal for the series is to celebrate established writers and introduce the next generation of writers that will explore the GLBT experience. The next reading will be held on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 7:30pm.

“The Promising Series has attracted a standing room only crowd,” said series coordinator Noël Alumit. “And the people coming aren’t necessarily gay or lesbian. They come because the work presented is awesome.”

The November 7th reading will feature:

Terry Wolverton is author of six books: Embers, a novel-in-poems; Insurgent Muse: life and art at the Woman's Building, a memoir, Bailey's Beads, a novel; and three collections of poetry: Black Slip, Mystery Bruise and Shadow and Praise. A new novel, The Labrys Reunion, will be published in 2008. She has also edited fourteen literary anthologies, including Mischief, Caprice, and Other Poetic Strategies. She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing center in Los Angeles, where she teaches fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

Don Cummings is a playwright, essayist and blogger. His critically acclaimed plays have been produced in such venues as Soho Rep, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Turnip Theatre Festival, Lake Ontario Playhouse, on the east coast; HBO Workspace, Theater/Theatre, West Coast Ensemble, The New Theatre, The Moving Arts Theatre, The Tamarind Theatre, The Powerhouse Theatre on the west coast. Titles include The Fat of the Land, American Air, What Do Men Live By?, Stark, Raving, Mad, The Winner and A Good Smoke.

Carlos Cabrera was born and raised in Los Angeles. He holds a BA in English from UCLA and will start an MFA program in poetry at Cornell University in 2008. His first book of poems, The Peacock's Song: A Poem in Seventeen Syllables, will be published in early 2008. He lives in West Los Angeles with Dorian, his suspiciously intelligent three-year-old cat.

Collins Carter has two selves—a former and a current. The former self was a stand-up comedienne for ten years, an actress and a morning show host for an alternative radio station. The current self chooses to express herself solely through her pen and pad. She is working on a collection of short stories and preparing her novel, Eating the Apple, for publication. Her body resides in Los Angeles, but her mind lives anywhere it desires.

Noël Alumit wrote the novels Letters to Montgomery Clift and Talking to the Moon. He wrote and performed the solos shows The Rice Room: Scenes from a Bar and Master of the (Miss) Universe.

The Promising Series will take place on Wednesday, November 7 at 7:30pm. A Different Light Bookstore, 8853 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069, (310) 854-6601.

October 19, 1979

Today was real good. I had 2 tests, After school I went to two banks, dropped money off for H. at Gynecare for a payment due. I took backroads to work, I got quite lost. I finally got there. I worked 4-12. It was good. I cooked with Phil. After work me, Nicki, Phil, Peggy and Robin went to Captain Vincents. They didn’t serve me, but it was fun anyway. Then we went to Tiffany’s. It’s 3:00 and I’m exhausted. Goodnight.

The H is a friend of mine who had an abortion. Her real name is in the journal. Tweren’t my child. I was just helping out. I worked at a truck stop on route 17 in Mahwah, NJ as a short order cook. Phil was gay. Nicki was this older woman who was putting herself through college. She had a face like Cher in Silkwood. I actually dated her for a few minutes. We went to a Linda Ronstadt concert at RCC (Rockland Community College). I wore a cowboy hat and was proud walking around with this older, hot woman for all my high school friends to see. Linda Ronstadt never showed up. The concert was canceled. Peggy was a large, older woman with bright, dyed red hair. She worked the cash register. Robin was a tragic figure, a bright blond alcoholic woman in her twenties who gave up on life quite young and made a career of being a truck stop waitress. Her best friend was a truck stop lifer, a much older woman, Terry, whom she emulated. Captain Vincent’s was the seafaring-themed bar at the Holiday Inn down the road. Tiffany’s was and still is a fabulous Jersey diner. Working at the truck stop was one of the best things I did growing up. I was a short order cook for years, wore white T-shirts, made BLT’s, cheeseburgers, microwaved meat loaf and poured canned brown gravy over it, fried bacon, fried eggs, threw frozen battered chicken in the deep fryer, opened lots of cans, cut a lot of cabbage for our signature homemade cold slaw and smoked cartons of Marlboro cigarettes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ravishing? No, Striking.

It could be a wonderful, rich, shared Hollywood experience for the people who want it: writing, producers working with writers, directors working with producers and writers, actors working with directors, all of it catered by someone who understands that garlic really upsets my stomach.

But it’s never easy at the grabby table. Because it’s all about the pie. For some reason, people want to hog down the whole thing, or hide the whole thing for later, or pretend there isn’t much of a pie so it can’t be shared. It’s disgusting.

I have worked for many years as an accountant in small, cable television production offices. The number one goal of the producers has always been to keep as much money for themselves as possible. Segment producers do not get writing credit, though they do almost nothing but research and writing. They often make $1200 per week. No chance of residuals. The producers would never think of giving them anything more. If a show gets a fee of $600,000 from a studio to produce one special episode, a pair of producers do their best to keep $300,000 for themselves, and then use the other half for the budget. When someone asks for a larger salary than $1200 (which is usually for at least a sixty hour work week) the producer responds, naturally, “There just isn’t that much money in the budget.” The segment producer (writer actually) glumly, yet feverishly works for $20 per hour in a very stressful, deadline oriented office. The two producers feel justified pocketing the $300,000 because they are in a high risk business and they need to protect themselves from ruin.

Therein lays the basis of producers’ greed: FEAR. They stockpile cash. They aren’t in this business to make glorious art. They are in this business (like brokers are in the securities trade) to amass cash for a safer, more opulent future.

There is so much money coming at producers. They skim and whine. I hope this WGA strike is grueling and bloody. This Halloween, I’m pulling up my ringside seat and I’m ready to hear all the “Boos”.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

May I Have Your Attention Please?

Due to Increased Security Measures, all passengers will be shot to death in the waiting area.

It’s getting ghastly out there. We often take flight 181 at 5PM from JFK back to LAX. It’s a good time to leave and you get to your house by 9PM. Plenty of time to clean up the piss from all your pets, check the mail, email, put things away, you name it, before hitting the hay.

But that’s just it. Here we are, having our normal lives, flying around, paying the bills, working when there’s work, hoping and writing about a better future and there’s just this infuriating stasis. And what about the kids? The kids are not rising up! Sure, it’s great that the laundry is going and my Energystar appliances are reducing my carbon footprint...I guess...but with Bush & Cheney getting ready to drop bombs on Iran now, we need to do something. And frankly, I’m just too busy with my life to do anything about it or to even know what to do about it. When I was just a wee boy, the Vietnam demonstrators were out in full force. I expect it again. It’s not happening.

We spent some time with my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner Adam’s niece who is in college in Vermont at the very funky and cool Marlboro College, where you get to design your own course of study. These kids seem like a lovely gaggle of patchouli pacifists. Which is wonderful! Maybe that’s the answer to the whole problem. Of course, the side of me that wants closure to this whole war thinks, “One Nuke per Middle Eastern Nation.” Reactionary? Surely. I’m impatient. Obviously, I’m no war policy expert and killing millions of innocents is not the answer. I watched the graduate students of The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts walking seriously into their dorms from my sophomore window. I never even talked to them. They seemed so sad and determined. I wonder what they’re doing now? Are they muscling for change? What the hell is going on? Are their kids in college? What are they going to do?

It’s frustrating to live with this endless badness. I fear for every one peaceful clove smoker at Marlboro College, there are three righteous bomb throwers at Virginia Tech.

Limited resources, over population, greed, and maniacs running the show—and all I care about or even know what to care about is to make sure I get an aisle seat on the flying aluminum tube that is burning its way back to my house. Like the kids, I don’t really know if I have any power at all. It’s so big. Can I have another cup of water without ice?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Poodle Tray

We have flown to Queens to relax...but more importantly, to go to the Berkshires and Vermont to see the Autumn leaves. This is the 1950's Swedish Poodle tray we purchased in an antique store in Cold Spring, NÝ during our last visit.

Religion, If We Must

Lately, I feel like we might as well have Religion.

People, for the most part, have a hard time grasping algebra, never mind the complex ideas of existential existence, evolution, secular humanism, or how to happily make a delicious fish taco for no other reason than the joy it gives the maker.

When brilliant authors, like Richard Dawkins, write their screeds against religion, they take a completely logical stance. But life is not completely logical. And again, people have a hard time happily making tacos. Plus, since we, like Dawkins, are able to logically assess the ignorance of the masses, doesn’t it then become logical that ignorance needs its solace?

I accept religion as the great soul softener if it aids in mollifying hard souls who will then reach out and take care of the old and the infirm. It makes sense that older people become more religious and inculcate others because it serves them well. Kinder people won’t just toss grandma on an iceberg flotilla. Old people have a lot at stake with Religion. Let them promulgate and benefit.

Religion is not for me. But then, I live in big American cities and I’m not poor and I can go to LAX and fly around and I have never known a day of hunger or serious disease. I don’t need some caring father figure in the sky to take care of me. But lots of people do.

I believe the destruction of Religion will only come when there are far fewer people on earth, when everything is truly mechanized, when human beings only follow their bliss and this is all accepted as a fine way to live. Until then...water rationing, And God.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Junior High Gym Locker

When I finally got to go to Junior High School, I was so excited. An actual SCHEDULE. I love schedules. It makes you feel like you are part of something important. It was very exciting. It was also a time for smoking all kinds of things, drinking what was available and figuring out, at least somewhat, what sex was all about. Exciting times, being twelve, and getting on that bus to Junior High.

What I did not anticipate, however, was that I was going to have to share a gym locker. I understood that I had to take gym and the army-navy store sold the uniforms. Fine. What I did not know was that my somewhat filthy outfit was going to be hanging right next to someone else’s filthy outfit. Right there, in the locker room, in the basement of the school, stinking to high heaven.

Because I was about three feet tall, weighed six pounds, threw like a mouse girl and loathed playing with balls outdoors, I was not the most desirable companion in gym class. This, of course, landed me being picked second to last for all teams. The guy who was picked dead last? Gerry Schwartz, the very fat kid. The recoiling kind of fat.

When it came time to choose a locker mate, well, Gerry and I became a natural pair. Neither one of us dared to ask someone else to be our locker mate, nor did anyone ask either one of us. Our gym clothes moved in with each other that first week of school.

At first, it really wasn’t a problem. I was barely in puberty but had already sworn to a life of deodorant. I was sitting on the bench one day, in fifth grade, during a basketball game. I guess I had exerted myself during practice and I smelled like an orangutan. I told my father (and very soon after told him I was never playing basketball again) and we got some Tussey.

So, in Seventh Grade, my first week of Junior High, I had a clean gym outfit (blue shorts and white T) and I didn’t really push too hard, didn’t sweat much, and was wearing my anti-smell chemicals.

Gerry was another story. He clearly had not discovered the personally sweetening properties of flecked aluminum in white stick or spray. And let’s all just admit it—Fat people sweat a lot. After jogging around the field, doing some jumping jacks, squat-thrusts, and other things that were actually just fine with me, I’d hang in the field during whatever game we were playing and just stay out of the way. I was dry as a bone upon completion. Gerry, after the calisthenics, tried to play a little in the game. And Gerry sweated like a Sooey-Pig.

Back in the locker room, we were both embarrassed about our bodies. I still looked like I was nine years old. And Gerry was just rotund, with huge, sagging breasts. We’d both undress very slowly and wait for the others to clear out before we put our regular clothes back on. Neither one of us ever showered, though Gerry really could have used many. I’d hang my shorts and T-shirt on one hook and Gerry would hang his dripping, musky, fetid garments on the other.

The next time we would come back to gym class (about every two days), there his stuff would be...dry now...but crusty and sweet.

Over time, I just accepted it. In fact, I played a trick on myself, convincing myself that, “Yeah, it’s just a smell. It’s pretty nice actually. It IS sort of sweet. And I like skunks.” We were supposed to bring our gym clothes home at the end of each week to get them washed. I followed rules and always brought mine home. Gerry, he always watied at least two weeks, sometimes three. It was awful.

For a while, I really liked Gerry. He had a very warm smile. He had nice, straight hair. He probably would have been very cute, now that I think about it, had he lost eighty pounds. He took being made fun of in stride. He smiled, laughed it off.
I figured I was with this smelly fat kid, I might as well like him. And he did have his good smile and hair and a sort of even, good natured temperament. I even thought that it would be kind of cool if we became really good friends.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize he was completely emotionally hiding inside his blubber and I saw that his shame and pain over his size was something he had been dealing with his whole life and so he had developed a way of not really being honest about anything and thus, really couldn’t form friendships. And the dishonesty became troubling to me. If I asked him to bring his stinking gym clothes home to wash them, he’d say, “Sure,” and then he wouldn’t. But I always forgave him in the way you forgive people with great infirmities. I thought—if he’s this fat, there must be other things that are really wrong with his family. Maybe they’re poor and don’t have detergent.

Within a few months, I became friends with the hardened, smoking, cool crowd of the seventh grade. My sister was friends with all their older siblings in the ninth grade, so we younger hippies formed a pack in response. Gerry remained a smiling fat kid, standing at the locker, putting on his filthy clothes week after week. I internally distanced myself from the whole experience, figured out that one day I would not have to take gym any longer, and that this whole thing would pass. After figuring out things like this, I'd rush out to "the shed" to smoke a Parliament.

Eventually, I didn’t leave my gym clothes in the locker with Gerry’s gym clothes. I couldn’t take it. I kept mine in my regular locker in the hall along with my books and lunch and just brought them with me to gym class. When I changed, I didn’t even put my regular clothes in Gerry’s locker. I thought of it as only Gerry's locker since he really chased me out with his stench.

During gym, I'd leave my regular clothes in another empty locker. We didn’t really have to share lockers. What we were sharing was locks, provided by the school. It was back in the day before you even thought about buying your own lock. So, I’d take the chance and leave my clothes unlocked. It was fine.

I wish I could have been friends with Gerry. I really did try to look for things, but he was too hidden and sad and I needed to be free and adventurous. As the year wore on and I would change at the gym locker that I was using, that would never be locked, Gerry would give me a funny look which said, “You abandoned me, just like every other kid who has ever known me has abandoned me, but I'm going to remain smiley and nice and that's how I'm going to survive. You look like you're heading for trouble with that pack of Parliaments. We used to share lockers, but you dumped me, but I’m glad you didn’t try to steal the lock away from me because I like having my own locker and my own lock. I don't mind the smell at all. I don’t get you either and we were never going to be friends anyway.”

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

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Monday, October 08, 2007


While watching the movie, Michael Clayton, I was absorbed, mostly. Though being a writer of a story or two, I was mentally poking at it with a stick, seeing what it was made of for most of the viewing.

There is a large problem. The climax is shown first and then they backtrack and show you how they get to that spot. You’ve seen this device before and it can work if there are lots of surprises along the way. Trouble is, as soon as they start back to square one, you kind of know exactly how it all will go down because of the climax that you saw. So you sit there for an hour and a half, slogging back to the scene you already saw near the beginning and you want to quietly whisper, “Okay, finally. Now let’s move on with the story.”

No one is talking about this as a problem? I think it’s a big one.

The acting is truly wonderful. Tilda Swinton as evil in full female flesh is quite enervating. Tom Wilkinson, a latter day Peter Finch from Network, is the nut who is causing all the trouble. George Clooney is the janitor/fixer. But what we quickly learn in this world of corporate greed, power and selfishness is that everyone is a version of janitor/fixer. And janitors do feel the need to clean up.

I don’t know. Hollywood seems to be congratulating itself for this movie. I think it’s just a big ol’ movie. Well done. But there’s a flatness to the story, a lack of twists, missing layers of onions to peel.

Sydney Pollack plays power very well. He is also one of the producers of the movie.

I sometimes feel sad that as Americans, we are mostly intrigued by the use and abuse of power. We are a nation of citizens who came here powerless in search of power. So it makes sense that the distribution and negotiating of power is what we mostly want to witness. But maybe juxtapose it against other human attributes without getting too cheesy?

I don’t like to have the time to pull back and think about the sociological underpinnings of a movie while I’m watching it. But with this one, I did.

Michael Clayton

Friday, October 05, 2007

Closeted Senator Stays Put

The thing that wouldn’t leave!
That’s Larry Craig. He’s sticking to his senate seat.
I’m all for his barnacle nature.
Though he is certainly a hypocritical lunatic, there is no law that can unseat him, unless 2/3 of the senate votes for his dismissal. Isn’t going to happen.
Tapping my toes for Larry. Let freedom ring.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Time Regained

Thanks to Jeff Kaufman, who might as well be the King of Sycamore Avenue, I have finally taken care of my sluggish computer syndrome.

Okay, you know how your computer just isn’t as fast as it used to be? Well, that’s because it isn’t. You need it to be faster. Sure, you can slow down in other areas of your life. Take long strolls along the Seine. Watch the roses grow. Pet your animals. Chew completely.

But in order to do that, you need your computer to be zippy so you’re not wasting time.

I only had 512 RAM going. I needed to double it.

Here’s what you do to see if you can increase the speed of your computer. It was so simple, a slightly educated monkey could do it.

Right click on you’re My Computer, click on Properties. A list of info shows up.
The amount of RAM is listed at the bottom, right next to the speed (Hz) of your processor. You might have 256 RAM or 512 RAM or 1GB RAM.

Also, you have to know what your computer model is.

Figure these things out. Write them down or do a dance about them. Just, remember them.

Then, go to

Follow their easy steps for Memory Upgrade. You put in the necessary info you have at hand, they let you know what the maximum amount of RAM you can have in your model. You buy the extra RAM (mine was only $40). They send it to you.

Then, you just slip it in. Every computer is different---but basically, there’s always some simple slot somewhere just underneath a panel and you click it in. If you don’t know where your slot is, you can certainly do an online search for it. It truly does just click in.

Jeff was the inspiration. My credit card was so convenient.

My computer now runs gazelle-fast...even when I type, the letters hit the screen faster. It’s a fucking miracle.

I went from 512 to 1GB.

I wish I did this three years ago.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Double Edged WiFi VooDoo

As the Santa Ana condition worsens and my head pounds like a pumpkin against a wrought iron gate, I sit at the computer and I wonder how my life got so wired.

Wanting to get more blog traffic, I set up a MySpace page and a Facebook Page with links to this blog.

Which is fine. That didn’t take long. But then---there you are—looking at your dog-ugly MySpace page compared with all the other ones that are covered with jewels, music and sometimes even fur you can feel.

I covet those pimped out electric calling cards and I want to dive deep into this world of fabulous cyber sunflowers. Yet one must, I don’t know, stop at some point?

There is all this life to be lived. And it needs to be lived with people, not with pages that are somehow linked to people.

However, I did already hook up with a performance venue in town through this MySpace thing. Although my blog is as sober looking as a book binding, I do enjoy a bit of the carnival.

I think, like everything else, one must limit one’s time going down the rabbit hole of the pulsing www. There is something lovely about organizing one’s life, publicly, for all to consume. But then there is privacy. I fear that people are not experiencing anything when they are private.

I meditate just five minutes each morning. When I do that, I feel so happy.

The Game is Over

No one is immune to being Awful.

When people pull out the victimization card as trump, I say bah!

You can be a slave, break free, become a very wealthy CEO and bully your underlings.

You can be the downtrodden poor in Seventeenth century Europe, take a boat to the new world and kill the natives to secure your farmland.

You can be a victim of the Nazi party, then settle into the West Bank and underpay the locals.

You can be abused as a child and then grow up and destroy anyone who gets in the way of your owning Michigan.

Spare me the tales of your past as target. Then lay down your wretched darts.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Wild, Into It

Into the Wild

Based on the Krakauer book of the same name, adapted and directed by Sean Penn, this thing is something else.

First of all, you have to decide for yourself, “Is this kid on a spiritual journey or a suicide mission?”

The brain tries to figure out which one it is. Of course, it’s both.

Into the Wild is slow. No question. The horrendous couple next to us (whom we moved over for so they could be together) did grow bored, talked to each other, leaned into each other for some heavy petting with the general tone that sounded like, “Baby, don’t you worry, I’d never do anything weird like leave you and head out into the wild to find, I don’t know, myself, God, nature, Death.”

It’s a movie you have to be in the mood for. I hadn’t been to the movies in a few weeks, so I was quite ready. Plus, I just finished reading Richard Ford’s very good novel, The Sportswriter, which is glacial yet somehow its snail pace spoke to my inner, meditative mollusk. I have been in the mood for slow, in depth things. Maybe I’m officially ancient.

Into the Wild is lovely in its administration to detail. And the point of going into nature, kind of like Thoreau but more severe, means slowing down, taking it all in. However, the experience of shooting a film and making a film that really makes you feel that way are two different things. At times, it worked. Other times, it seemed kind of overwrought---with slow shots of sky, rock, cloud, bush, bear. Growl.

The acting was pitch perfect. This is the shining goodness. Emile Hirsch does an amazing job as a coming-of-age kid who has pushed down all his rage toward his awful parents and submitted to a higher calling. He is immediately likable and everyone who comes into contact with him is galvanized into loving him. Supporting turns by Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Catherine Keener, newcomer Brian Dierker as Rainey, Vince Vaughn and especially Hal Holbrook are fully realized and completely joyful to behold. I will repeat it again: especially Hal Holbrook. One can smell Oskie.

If you want to slow down and take in a big movie that tries its best to engulf a few big ideas, go for it. It’s good to slow down. But one does wish Sean Penn was just a tiny bit better at making movies if he’s going to continue. And we know he is.

Warning: Nasty moose slaughter scene.

Into the Wild